Why Leaf Mold is Awesome!

I just love leaf mold. It really is one of the best things you can put on your garden. So why do I like it so much and what is leaf mold? Let’s dive into it a bit.

This week’s blog post—What is Leaf Mold (And How to Make It)—covers the basics of what leaf mold is, how to make it and use it on the garden.

At its most basic leaf mold is simply compost made from fall leaves only. This composting process is slow (takes 1+ years), cold and fungal dominated. Which is opposite from the composting you’re likely more familiar with which is fast, hot, and bacterial dominated.

This slow, cold, fungal based composting results in what is often called leaf mold.

Why Leaf Mold is Awesome

Leaf mold has a number of great benefits but first let’s mention what it’s not. It’s not a fertilizer and is very poor in nutrients.

Leaf mold is a soil amendment.

What this means is that applying leaf mold to your garden will boost soil life, will provide minerals for your plants, and will improve the structure of your garden’s soil.

Leaf mold can easily compete with rock dust for being a source of minerals for your garden. Plus, it comes with all sorts of other benefits that rock dust does not (and less negatives).

All of this will reduce the amount of watering you need to do since the soil will be able to hold much more water and with the increase in soil life more nutrients will be available in a form your plants can use.

The improved soil structure will also make it easier for your plant’s roots to get oxygen, water, and just move through the soil in search of what the plant needs.

Plus, if you use leaf mold as a mulch like I do it will also decrease evaporation of water from your soil.

Leaf Mold is Mimics a Forest Floor

That picture could easily be of a forest floor but it’s actually a pile of leaf mold in one of my leaf mold bins. These bins let me mimic what happens on a forest floor but on a faster rate since the fall leaves are all concentrated in a 3’ x 3’ x 3’ bin made from untreated pallets.

When I spread the leaf mold out on my garden, I’m basically giving the garden the leaf litter from a forest.

In all honesty I’m sure the leaf mold is a far cry from the actual forest floor in terms of all the life found on the forest floor. But it’s an easy way to mimic the forest floor in a more traditional garden.

In my food forests the trees create all the leaf mold I need each year without me having to bring it in. But my kitchen garden needs a little help which is where my leaf mold bins come in.

Each year I get fall leaves from my neighbors and I fill up my 2 leaf mold bins which is plenty for my kitchen garden.

I harvest my leaf mold after only 1 year which results in a rougher less decomposed material. But I just put this on my garden in the fall and let it continue to decompose over the winter. This way it also protects the soil from the heavy winter rains.

So what do you think? Are you using leaf mold on your garden? Thinking about it? Please leave a comment and also make sure to check out the blog post for more details on the benefits of leaf mold and how to make and use it.

Thank you!


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Thanks for sharing with us!

You're welcome! :)

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Great infornmation as always! I’ve featured your post in the Homesteaders – Living Naturally newsletter.


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But... how do.you stop it getting hot and breaking down? What am I missing?

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I use decomposed leaves every year. I collect the leaves from the year before and by June they are ready to go. I have two storage areas for the leaves, the decomposed pile and an area for newly fallen leaves.

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Nice! Great to hear and thanks for sharing! I'm going to be collecting some new leaves very soon to start the next piles of leaf mold. Really a great resource. Thanks again!

I do use leaf mulch every year. My gardens have amazing soil structure because of adding it in every fall. Great post.

Great to hear! Thanks for the comment and for sharing your experience with leaf mold!

Collecting this much leaves requires a large forest nearby! The small amount we manage to gather we put as a winter mulch under the fruit bushes. But to fill a pallet enclosing, that will take 20 bags of leaves and a proper forest! You are very lucky to have one! 😉

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I collect all my leaves from people that live in my area. I use social media to reach out to people that are getting rid of their leaves. Generally that gives me more then I can use. My trees are still young so they don't produce many leaves yet and I like to let the leaves stay where they fall on my wild homestead.

People are throwing leaves away! Wow!

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Yeah, I can get several hundred bags each fall from people that have already bagged them up and want to get rid of them. One reason I make the posts about leaf mold and other uses for fall leaves is to encourage people to not throw their leaves away.

I wonder why they throw them away? Maybe they don't have gardens and trees to mulch? But where the leaves come from then? I really hope your writing will make people throw out less!

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A lot of people just seem to think its "what you do" with leaves. It's just what all their neighbors are doing so they do it too. Even my neighbor who can see how I use my leaves does it--he gives me his leaves!

Around my old neighborhoods back East people would bag their leaves for the town to gather at certain times but I would just go around and pick them up for my garden. Several tons went into my compost/garden bed over the years and a lot were already shredded from the mowers. Never pass up free compost stuff!

Nice! Yeah, I love getting leaves from people in my area--I do wish they would use them on their own land but I love getting the leaves!